Burning Giraffes

Bizarro is brought to you today by Validation.

Given the subject of today’s cartoon, this would be an excellent time for a serious academic discussion of surrealism. Unfortunately, I am not qualified for such discourse and cannot find an art history expert within shouting distance of this computer, so we’ll just chat.

I have always been attracted to surrealist art and the landscapes of artists like Dali, Magritte, Ernst and Tanguy left an iconic impression on me. Here, I combine this type of image with the “pick your own (fruit/vegetable)” roadside attraction and voila – a surreal cartoon.

I consider myself a surrealist painter and hope to build something of a career in this, the (presumably) second half of my life. But I attempt to avoid derivative images (unlike many modern surrealists) and stay away from sweeping landscapes full of weird things. This is, in my opinion, an all-too-easy and tacky method of composition. Art of this sort is not just about hand skills and imagination, but also about inventiveness and substance. There is nothing inventive about knocking off someone else’s style. It reminds me of another pet peeve of mine; the habit many recording artists have of rerecording an old classic in the same style as the original. That approach always seems like an amateurish mistake. If you’re going to record an established classic, do it completely differently.

That said, I emulate classical art in many ways, but I do it in ways that make a statement about the art, the belief system involved in its production, the difference between now and then, or some other concept that I hope is conveyed in the art. Perhaps others will see my work as derivative but I hope that those with an eye for this kind of thing will see the difference. Here are some samples of my oil paintings, I hope you can see what I mean. All of these are fairly large, the longest dimension of each is 48 inches. The Virgin and Her DaughtersFour Clerics Ignoring a VisionJesusman to the Rescue…(a lousy photo of) Parson Weems’ Fable Redux.

Why am I discussing this in such self-indulgent detail on a cartoon blog? I’m not sure.

In closing, remember that today is the beginning of Daylight Savings Time in most of the U.S.  This represents an excellent opportunity to save daylight for retirement or when the power is out in your community and you want to read at night. But perhaps most importantly, this is the best time of the year to both show up to work an hour late on Monday proclaiming you didn’t know about the time change, and to let your boss and coworkers know that your life is so devoid of social interaction that you could go 24 hours without noticing that the rest of society is an hour ahead of you.

Pining for products with this cartoon on them? Click this…Surreal Landscape

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22 Responses to Burning Giraffes

  1. Steve H says:

    Oh lord, I LOVE your paintings! Is there somewhere we can see more of them (preferably online for those of us who don’t live Down East)?

  2. Clark says:

    Could you blow this up to screen size? I would really love to have it as a desktop/


  3. mike says:

    Dude, who’s the douchebag in the t-shirt f#@king up the first to oils? Other than that, they rock! No, seriously – seriously good paintings… “The Virgin and Her Daughters”…?! That’s funny, like “tongue-in-cheek”, or, as I like to call it, “funny”…

  4. This is a brilliant cartoon.

    I had a puntoon idea for you: Mock Court. Both sides are mocking each others.

  5. patrickm says:

    Not sure if you have ever been to Spain or not, but if you do go sometime, check out the Dali museum in Figueres, north of Barcelona – quite fascinating, even for non-Dali fans.

    • Piraro says:

      We’re planning to go to Barcelona next year, so we’ll definitely check it out. We’ve been to the Dali Museum in St. Pete a couple of times.

      • James says:

        If headed to Barcelona, don’t forget to check out the Picasso museum as well. There is quite a collection of filthy sketches he made all featuring himself with an abnormally large phallus chasing waitresses (if I remember correctly)!

  6. Howard says:

    Great paintings, Dan. I hope to see more. (I note the availability of your book).

    Have you ever seen the work of Dieter Schwertberger? I obtained a book of his work a few years ago, but first saw his paintings in a 1962 issue of the legendary, banned Eros Magazine. There were some truly bizarre visions printed there that were not included in the book. I am currently unable to determine which of the four issues the Schwertberger article was in. Worth seeking out, but highly collectible and often pretty pricey to buy.

    • Piraro says:

      Haven’t seen his work, I’ll check it out.

      • Howard says:

        Jackpot! Schwertberger is now known as De Es. Here is a link to his online gallery. Some of the images are from the Eros magazine.


        • Howard says:

          Oops! correction, I think…

          Research leads me to believe DS paintings appeared in Avant Garde magazine, not Eros. Both mags were published by Ralph Ginzberg in the 60′s. It’s been about 40 years since I saw the article, and apparently my memory is a bit foggy for unstated 70′s reasons…

  7. cinders23 says:

    Strangely surreal paintings. I love the colors, they kind of “pop” like looking at a Vermeer in Amsterdam. Beautiful…

  8. Dan Pelzer says:

    Thanks for the recommendation for “The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore”. Read it over the weekend, excellent book, excellent writer, I had to use the dictionary more than several times! Thought provoking AND very entertaining. Thanks again for the pointer.

  9. Ray says:

    “Four Cleric Ignoring a Vision” is beautiful. You’re just as talented in that medium as well! I’m very intrigued by the crucifix in the antelope’s (?) mouth.

  10. Tom says:


    Very nice to see your surreal work. Thanks.

    Oh, and FWIW, there’s an extra ‘the’ in the last sentence of the blog. Don’t know if you are compulsive about correcting such trivia.

  11. Ron says:

    Wow, now if cafepress would put one of THOSE on a mug or T-shirt, I’d stand in line to get one!

  12. hi dan, as a fan of your work(cartooning) i wasent sure what to expect of your paintings, wow!! very well done, maybe theres a way to sell a poster size print, i’d be interested..keep up the great work!

  13. Rich Ernst says:

    When you say you were always attracted to the work of Ernst, were you referring to me Dan?

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